Violence, high unemployment and malaise pervade the atmosphere. Things fall apart; the center will not hold. It's time for witch trials and a scapegoat carved out of sexual hysteria and the fear of pandemics.
outcast is destroyed (or destroys him/herself) for the sake of
the community. She serves a vital purpose, to draw the ire and inchoate
hatreds of the group upon herself. She exists to be the outsider and functions to enhance the well-being of those within. The only action to be taken to appease the community in the face of this loathsome creature is to institute a form of social control. Out of sight, out of mind. Social control used in this way covers a multitude of sins. Snorting the air of self-satisfaction and superiority, the members of the community only wish her to be banished from their sight.
This dynamic is seen starkly in the short
story, "The Lottery", by Shirley Jackson, which depicts a wholesome
farming town that depends on the
community to gather together for the harvest day ritual. Just ordinary people trying to guarantee their survival against the prospect of famine. Spoiler alert: human sacrifice. It can happen here. It can happen to you.
tantamount to sexual hysteria and can be whipped up in several ways.
We saw this occur during the McCarthy era, when Joseph McCarthy, Senator
from Wisconsin, seized upon the idea of Communists lurking among the
American population, stoking the notions that ordinary citizens were
infiltrating society in order to bring it down.
The fear that spread
like a virus through the country tore apart lives but helped put notches
on the belt of Roy Cohn and Richard Nixon, who later became President. In the late 17th century in Salem, Massachusetts, accusations of
witchcraft ended the lives of several women. The sexual hysteria whipped up
serves several functions: bind the group against a common enemy and
project internal hostility and rage upon an outsider.
it is probably difficult to actually be the outsider, the target on
whose destruction the group depends. There are many methods utilized
against the target: threats, attempts to discredit, or even driving her
to the brink of sanity. On a continuous basis, day in and day out, the
perpetrator cannot help but succeed, particularly if the group does not
step in for fear of becoming tainted themselves.